NVIDIA XFX 8800 GTX SLI Review
Last month NVIDIA launched their revolutionary 8800 GTS and 8800 GTX G80 graphics cards that are the first DirectX 10 compatible graphics cards on the market. We ran out reviews of the 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS on launch day, and today we are back with a review of the highest performance graphics system you can get your hands on, NIVIDA XFX 8800 GTX SLI. If you want to know how fast the best cards on the market are when paired up, read on.
For today’s review I’m not going to go into any detail about the 8800 GTX graphics card itself. We covered the new and exciting feature of the XFX 8800 GTX last month so I’ll simply refer you to those reviews for the more detailed picture on the 8800 GTX. What we are going to do today is look at the awesome performance to be had for a pair of the fastest graphics cards you can buy. Before we get started I want to list the specs of my test machine here:
- CPU- Intel X6800 Core 2 Extreme
- Mainboard- EVGA NVIDIA NForce 680i SLI
- RAM- Crucial PC2-8000 2x 1GB running at 800 MHz
- HDD- Seagate 750GB x1 and Raptor 75GB x1
- PSU- Top Power 1000W
I want to point out the PSU that I am using here. NVIDIA recommends at least an 800W PSU for 8800 GTX graphics cards in SLI mode. It is also important to keep in mind that not all PSUs in the 800W variety will have the required four 6-pin power connectors for the SLI cards. If you don’t use a PSU that has four of the connectors you may get lower performance from your system. If you intend to run lots of lights, liquid cooling or a CPU like the Quad Core Extreme you may want to invest in a larger PSU than 800W.
For testing and benchmarking the XFX 8800 GTX SLI system I used 3DMark06, FEAR, Oblivion and Battlefield 2142. Since these dual 8800 GTX cards form XFX are the fastest graphics system around I went right for the max settings in the games, but ran 3DMark at default settings on both the NVIDIA control panel and the 3DMark06 settings.
|8800 GTX Cards in SLI Require Four Six Pin Connectors
A couple runs with 3DMark06 gave me the following final results:
- Total 3DMarks- 13,012
- SM2.0- 5866
- HDR/SM3- 7018
- CPU- 2492
- Return to Proxycon- 47.769
- Firefly Forest- 49.990
- Canyon Flight- 78.886
- Deep Freeze- 61.469
- CPU1- 0.0796
- CPU2- 1.249
To compare the results with one single XFX 8800 GTX was 10,355 total 3DMarks, SM2.0 was 4796, HDR/SM3 was 4870, and CPU was 2288.
The next test up was with FEAR. For the first run I left the NVIDIA control panel alone and set all the slides in FEAR to max levels for both computer performance and graphics at a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200. Frame rate results were as follows:
The percentages for this run worked out clearly as you can see with 100% of the time frame rates being above 40 fps. For the next run I left all the in game settings the same and cranked up 16x AA in the NVIDIA control panel, the results were as follows:
The percentages show that at these settings only 4% of the time did frame rates ever drop below 40fps. For the next run I left in game FEAR settings the same again and turned the NVIDIA control panel settings to 16x AA and 16xQ AF. The frame rate scores were as follows:
The percentages show that at these very high settings that 28% of the time frame rates were from 25-40 fps yet still a full 72% of the time frame rates were above 40. This is fantastic performance any way you look at it in FEAR which is still one of the most demanding titles on hardware around.
The next game up is one of my all time favorite games, Battlefield 2142. Since BF 2142 doesn’t have an in game test loop like FEAR, I used Fraps to record average frame rate data. I set all the graphics controls in the game settings menu to their highest settings. I also went into the NVIDIA control panel and set 16xAA and 16xQ AF. Screen resolution was 1920 x 1200. Fraps recorded an average frame rate at these settings of 58 FPS. The game looked absolutely fantastic at these settings.
The final game I tested with is one of the most beautiful game titles on the current market, Oblivion. I like to test graphics cards with Oblivion in out door environments near the main city walls with all the water, trees and grass that move. This particular environment brought a single 8800 GTX to a grinding halt when I maxed it out in the NVIDIA control panel
A pair of 8800 GTX cards in SLI was a different story. I have never played Oblivion when it looked this good, and actually been able to move. I turned all the settings to high in the Oblivion settings, save the AF which I turned off in favor of HDR. With the 8800 GTX cards you can get both AF and HDR at the same time by enabling AF in the NVIDIA control panel, which I did.
At a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200, 16x AA, 16xQ AF and HDR with every slider set to max I recorded an awesome average frame rate with Fraps of 43.408 fps. With any other graphics card system on the market you simply can’t play Oblivion at these levels of detail. Everything was smooth and the game was as
playable at these settings as it was set to lower detail settings.
If you have the budget for the best graphics card set up for your Pc, XFX and NVIDIA have it with 8800 GTX SLI. It’s not cheap but the best of anything never is, each one of these cards will set you back in the neighborhood of $500 so we are looking at $1000 worth of graphics cards alone. That said, if you want Oblivion to look so good it makes console gamers cry openly and curse their PS3, go grab a pair of XFX 8800 GTXs. Just be sure you have tissues nearby.
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